Friday, August 17, 2007

Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us

We made the humble request for daily bread - that our needs alone (not our wants) for this day alone (not for tomorrow) would be provided by God - and now we make a second request. And this one is likewise humbly done.

Forgive us our sins is something God must do, as noted in the New Testament when Jesus forgave the sins of many (see Matthew 9:2-6; Mark 2:5-10; Luke 5:20-24; 7:41-49) while onlookers were surprised due to the fact that they understood that only God could forgive sins. This element of the Lord's Prayer is extremely critical, as unforgiven sin is a barrier between us and God. Repentance and forgiveness allows prayer to be heard.

But notice the qualifier in this request for forgiveness. Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. We cannot expect to be forgiven if we are not willing to forgive. And this is often hard to do. Nevertheless, it has been said many times that Christians ought to be the most forgiving people since we have understood our sin and the forgiveness that we are granted in Christ. How many times ought we forgive? As many times as forgiveness is requested of us. And we certainly want this level of forgiveness from our Heavenly Father, as we, though justified, remain sinners as we battle through the evils of this world.

In Matthew 6, where Jesus teaches the Lord's Prayer, He concludes with these words (v14-15):
"For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins." Forgiveness is a serious matter. Repent and receive the grace of forgiveness - as you forgive others.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread

This portion of the Lord's Prayer humbly shifts the focus from God to us. We have called God our Father, we have noted His exaltedness in heaven, we have requested that His name be kept pure and holy and magnified, and we have asked for His kingdom to come to us and His will to be done on this earth. Now we ask for Him to grant something specifically on our behalf - daily bread.

We have spent the first half of this prayer magnifying God and therefore humbling ourselves. We can do nothing, for God has the power. Thus we acknowledge our dependence on Him when we ask Him to give us anything. We realize here that everything comes from Him. "G:ive us this day" is a repeated request. Each day we pray this prayer, we are asking for a "right-now" blessing. And despite our sinfulness, God provides. He provides this day and every day. When we hear, "our daily bread," we likely think of food. And that's fine, for we do indeed need food for sustenance. And God does indeed provide that for us. But more specifically - or generally, depending on your perspective - our daily bread speaks of our needs. It's a plea for the Lord, the Creator of the universe, to give us everything we need for today. And isn't it amazing that He does. We are to be humbled throughout this prayer. Even in asking for a blessing to fall upon us, we affirm that it is by His grace and according to His pleasure and purpose to bring it to pass.

We may not get everything we want, but surely, at the end of your day, even if you're homeless and hungry, God has provided you with what you needed. Now tomorrow is a different day. So pray this prayer then too, and watch God work. Consider Luke 12:4-7, in which Jesus said:

"I tell you, My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more. But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after the killing of the body, has power to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him. Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows."

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven

This lengthy portion of The Lord's Prayer directs our attention to God's purpose. After addressing the Creator of the universe as Our Father in heaven, we request that His name be hallowed, the He be exalted in His holy character. And with that request made, we turn to His kingdom and His will.

Jesus teaches us that God's kingdom is already heavenly, and His will is already being done in heaven - where He is. Our request is that His kingdom in heaven would come on earth, which of course, it did with Jesus Christ. It will come in its fullness with His second coming, so we continue to pray this until then. Our request is also that the Father's will will be done on earth. And once again, we can point out that it is being done. But likewise, it will be done in fullness with the arrival of the new heavens and new earth.

So before we even think of making requests for ourselves, we ask God to exalt His name and do all that His purpose desires with His creation. Next time, we'll see the first request for ourselves.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Hallowed be Thy Name

This part of Jesus' model prayer represents the first request. He taught to call on God as our Father, and He taught us that God our Father is in heaven. Now, before we make requests for ourselves, we ask that God's name be hallowed.

Hallowed simply means to be revered as holy and to be exalted, magnified, or glorified. God's name serves as a representation of His entire character, so by making this request, we are showing our utmost concern to be that of God's glory. As a matter of first importance, we desire nothing more than God's glorious name to be upheld.

Our Father, who art heaven, hallowed be Thy name.